National News

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Opioid response team in Texas offers help, hope to overdose survivors

VIDEO: Overcoming opioids is difficult for our neighbors struggling with drug addiction. First Responders are taking a new approach to help people who have recently overdosed, find a new life. “I started using heroin when I was 16. I'm 51 years old now. Last month was my first overdose and I think that was my wake up call,” said Abel Martinez. His deep brown eyes do little to reveal everything that’s happened in those 51 years. “The biggest thing that I have now is hope.” Martinez says he’s traded heroin for that new h-word. Hope is a state of mind he hasn’t had in decades. The change started with a visit from the fire department. Deon Popoy and Isaac Gomez are members of the first Texas Targeted Opioid Response team, called TTOR. It's a subdivision of the San Antonio Fire Department's Mobile Integrated Healthcare Unit. San Antonio

Dolly Parton donates to Tennessee firefighters to wrap up fund drive

Country music legend Dolly Parton on Saturday donated $200,000 to firefighters to wrap up a fundraising drive that she started shortly after the 2016 wildfires that destroyed large swaths of forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding area. On behalf of the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund, Parton presented the check to the fire chiefs of the eight volunteer fire departments located in Sevier County. “It’s only fitting that the last of the My People Fund will go to those who were the first to respond to the fires,” Parton said. The wildfires killed 14 people, injured 134 and destroyed 10,000 acres, about 15 square miles, in the national park, and an additional 6,000 acres outside the park. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. Each department receives $20,000 of the money for needed resources and equipment. The final $40,000 will go toward the construction of a new classroom at the countywide training center.

Vermont EMS leaders struggle with money, workforce

Less than three years after state officials concocted a plan to boost payments for ambulance services, emergency medical administrators say they're still struggling to keep their doors open. Leaders of ambulance organizations from across Vermont converged on the Statehouse Friday to talk about insurance reimbursement and workforce issues that continue to cause problems in the increasingly expensive business of emergency treatment and transport. Those issues are affecting the ability of some services to respond to calls, or even to stay open. “I am absolutely concerned,” said Drew Hazelton, operations chief at Brattleboro-based Rescue Inc. “I'm concerned about the fact that we have services that have closed and we have services that are on the verge of closing.” Ambulance financial issues are not new, and some of the problem is due to the vagaries of the insurance reimbursement system.

Indiana towns vote to establish joint fire territory

The New Carlisle Town Council and Olive Township Board voted Tuesday to establish a joint fire territory in 2020. By increasing taxes, the move will enable several firefighters to be hired so that residents don’t depend solely on volunteers for service. The vote was 3-2 from the town council members, and the Olive Township representatives voted 2-1 on the measure. Although several residents spoke against the measure at the meeting, which drew more than 100 people, the boards decided to approve it. “There were some negative comments, but it’s our job to prove them wrong and be the best fire department that we can be,” said Josh Schweitzer, current volunteer fire chief. Supporters of the territory say it is no longer safe for residents to rely on the volunteer-based New Carlisle Fire Department. Not enough volunteers respond to emergencies, they say, and a paid staff is needed to protect the public and serve the industrial area east of the town.
South Bend Tribune

Illinois Air Guard firehouse could be delayed for border wall

A planned $9 million firehouse for the 60 or so firefighters at the 182nd Airlift Wing could be eliminated to help fund a proposed border wall. That’s according to a list released Monday by the Pentagon of military construction projects that could be delayed in order to pay for the wall along the country’s southern border. For years, the Illinois Air National Guard unit at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport has provided fire service to both the military and the civilian side of the airport as well as helping to respond, when needed, to fires nearby. They are also responsible for providing fire and emergency medical coverage to the Army National Guard’s helicopter units located nearby. Pilots in those units fly UH-60 Blackhawks and Ch-47F Chinooks. There’s also an unnamed aerial vehicle unit located within the Army’s facility as well. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, all decried the move.
Journal Star

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ohio fire department making safety changes following firefighter’s death

VIDEO: The Hamilton Fire Department has announced major safety improvements following an internal investigation into the line of duty death of one of their own. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman died in December 2015 after responding to a fire believed to have trapped people inside a home. Wolterman was the first firefighter to enter the home. He ran into the burning home that morning because firefighters thought people could be trapped. Wolterman fell through the first floor and died of smoke inhalation. Wolterman's legacy looms largely over the Hamilton Fire Department. Every member of the department who was on duty at the time of his death wears a uniform pin bearing badge No. 86. The recently released line of duty death report will take that legacy further, raising concerns for those with whom Wolterman served. Union representatives and fire officials say his death deserves the clarity of full disclosure.
WLWT-TV NBC 5 Cincinnati

Therapy dogs join EMS force in Georgia

VIDEO: The newest part-time employees at Gaston Emergency Medical Services walk on four legs and work for treats. Bijou, her son Knox, and a Danish import named Macy Mae serve as the first responders’ therapy dogs. Their presence was the idea of Maj. Jessica Ross, who reflected on tough times at the department and her past career as a certified nursing assistant for a way to help her co-workers. “The last couple years we’ve had some traumatic events,” Ross said. “Mental health in tragic events, first responders are more suicidal, we’re having more mental health problems. We actually lost one of our own last year to suicide. I was thinking, ‘What we could do to help the situation?’ When I was younger, I worked with oncology patients. Therapy dogs came in to the hospital and worked with patients. Their whole outlook changed, and I thought first responders would benefit from therapy dogs.” Ross asked for help from Courtney Johnson, an EMT at GEMS and a breeder of Great Danes for more than 20 years.
Gaston Gazette

Detroit fire union sues to halt blood, bodily fluid cleanup rules

The city's fire union is asking a judge to halt newly codified rules that direct firefighters to clean up blood and bodily fluids at accident and medical scenes. The Detroit Fire Fighter Association is asking a Wayne County Circuit judge to grant an injunction to halt the practice until an unfair labor complaint is resolved. The union, in its Thursday lawsuit, argues the regulations could expose crews to HIV, hepatitis or other blood-borne pathogens and pose an "imminent" risk to the health and safety of workers and the public. But fire administration countered that while the policy wasn't in writing before, it's not new. Detroit Fire Fighter Association President Mike Nevin said the policy is a "safety hazard" that was "poorly imposed" by management without consulting the union. "They've had a few of these runs where they are just blasting blood everywhere. I hope they don't get any in their eyes and mouth," Nevin said. "This is a completely different line of work than we're used to."
The Detroit News

Maryland fire department using overtime to fill nearly one-third of shifts amid daily staffing shortages

The Baltimore City Fire Department is paying overtime to fill nearly a third of its firefighter and medic shifts every day, blowing through its overtime budget. The department is relying heavily on volunteer “callbacks,” in which firefighters or medics who have just finished a shift are asked to work another, said a department spokeswoman. It also is shuffling personnel around, moving firefighters who are also certified as medics from scheduled firefighting shifts to particularly short-staffed medical units. On average, about 30 percent of the 371 fire and medical shifts the department must fill each day are going to personnel working for extra pay, confirmed Blair Adams, the spokeswoman. Partly as a result, the department has used up its $11.2 million overtime budget for this year, despite there being more than three months left on the fiscal calendar, Adams confirmed.
The Baltimore Sun - Metered Site

Colorado mayor and firefighters face-off in ballot issue forum

VIDEO: An election forum Monday allowed voters to hear from both sides of Ballot Issue 1, which residents will vote on as part of the Colorado Springs municipal election April 2. The measure would allow collective bargaining for all uniformed firefighters, which means firefighters would be guaranteed an opportunity to negotiate pay, benefits and equipment concerns with the city. About 100 people in the audience got a chance to voice their opinions and ask questions. John Roy is a firefighter of six years and Colorado Springs native for the ballot issue. Mayor John Suthers, who is up to re-election, is against it. "Not once in our campaign have we talked about pay, not once have talked about benefits," said John Roy, Deputy Campaign Manager for the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters. "We've consistently talked about public safety."
Fox21 News

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe